The Importance of Buying Fresh Green (unroasted) Coffee
With the rise of specialty coffee roasters, baristas and home brewers alike are getting a better understanding of the importance of fresh roasted coffee. Behind the scenes, and before the coffee is even roasted, the treatment of green coffee is actually very much the same. Like all other fruits, fresh coffee cherries go bad—and they do so quite quickly. To keep coffees fresh and tasting great for as long as possible, farmers rarely begin processing their coffees more than 12 hours after harvest.
Through whatever process is chosen to extract the seeds from the cherry, the purpose is the same: to reduce the moisture level of the coffee to between 8% to 12%, which slows down the aging of the green. This also prevents mold and eventually rot from getting a chance to settle in and maintains the best qualities of the farm and the region.
We spoke to Ryan McCabe, Co-Director of Coffee at Detour Coffee Roasters, about the importance of fresh green coffee:
“What happens is, as the coffee ages, it slowly loses a lot of its terroir character and starts to gain kind of a woodiness or a mustiness or a dryness. It's almost like if you took a piece of paper and covered up the flavour of the coffee or if you took a wooden stir stick and steeped it in the coffee.”
The reason this happens is because of the remaining moisture left within the beans. As they age, that moisture almost becomes stale, similarly to how water left in a bottle for a few days will taste not quite right. Though it happens much slower, that tiny amount of moisture takes on those same characteristics and degrades the quality of the beans.
McCabe went on to explain why fresher coffee is so important for roasters who want to display the quality of the coffee they’re purchasing.
“With a lot of specialty roasters, we want to roast coffee to highlight the terroir of where the coffee comes from. Having it be a green coffee that's fresh and not showing age is really important because you want to show the characteristics of the crop itself. That mustiness or the woodiness or the age and the green will actually take away from a lot of the sweeter, fresher, more complex notes that are in the coffee.”